Name of breed: Campeiro, or Marchador das Araucárias.
Country of Origin: Brazil.
Breed origin: The Campeiro horse originated from Spanish and Portuguese stock that was brought to Brazil by Captain Alveres Nunes in the 1540s. Some of these horses were lost during the expedition and formed a feral population in the area encompassing Rio Grande, the Paraná plains and the Auracaria forests. The horses were not discovered until 1728, when another expedition stumbled upon them. A couple of years later, a few hundred Campeiro horses were captured by explorers, and when the first plantations were established in the area, the breed really took off. Settlers captured the horses and selectively bred them to enhance their natural ambling gait. In the 19th century, Thoroughbred and Arabian stock was added to refine the Campeiro’s looks and improve performance. After many generations of careful breeding, the Campeiro had become a hardy, versatile farm horse with very comfortable paces. A breed association was established in 1976, and a stud book opened in 1985.
Distinguishing features: Campeiro horses are prized for their ambling gait, which can be either diagonally or laterally broken. The gait is smoother and faster than a trot, and can be sustained over a long period of time. They stand around 14 – 15.1 hands high and come in most solid colours, with chestnut, bay, grey and buckskin being the most common. They have a fairly straight, wide head, well-muscled neck, wide and muscular chest, a strong, arched back, strong legs and solid hooves.
Modern day Campeiro: Campeiro horses are still primarily bred by farmers in the plateau of Santa Catarina, Brazil. They are used for all manner of farm activities, as well as for traditional horse riding events and competitions, for light harness work and as a means of transport.
Image credits: Eduardo Amorim, Revista Horse.